Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right

There’s no 'populism' in the Bank of Israel saga; these are serious charges that should have been investigated before Frenkel, then Leiderman were nominated.

Rotem Shtarkman
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Rotem Shtarkman

The cast of characters:

Jacob Frenkel

On Friday, Haaretz columnist Nehemia Shtrasler gave his rundown on the travel bag incident concerning the man who until a week ago was the Bank of Israel governor-designate, Jacob Frenkel. In short, it stated that Frenkel simply didn't want to wait through the long line, so he pulled a bag out of the pile (on sale) and, before heading to the lounge, asked his colleague to pay. Since the colleague, in the end, didn't pay either (she was also put off by the long line), a problem arose that was solved with the help of an expensive lawyer and the Israeli embassy.

Even if we want to believe this version of events, which isn't easy at all, it seems Frenkel thinks he deserves special treatment, just like what we read about him in the State Comptroller's damning report a decade ago. After all, who among us even thinks about taking an item from a store and leaving without paying because of the queue? And who among us (who doesn’t serve in a major public role) can use the good services of the Foreign Ministry to escape the claws of Hong Kong justice? The conclusion from this account is similar to those conclusions reached from previous accounts: Frenkel isn't worthy of being governor of the Bank of Israel.

Leo Leiderman

As opposed to Frenkel, who stepped aside five weeks after saying "yes," Leiderman rescinded his candidacy after two days. And as opposed to Frenkel's case where, after he dropped out, the prime minister and finance minister blasted "public sentiment" for pushing people out of public service, this time they went silent.

The two, who appointed Leiderman too hastily, apparently understood that his withdrawal is justified. For years Liederman has dreamed of receiving such a phone call from the prime minister – and here it was. Up until Friday afternoon Leiderman was still giving reporters briefings – even explaining that his first name should be pronounced with an "a" rather than "e" sound, like soccer star Leo Messi (also an Argentine, and currently visiting the region) – so clearly he didn't withdraw just out of the blue.

Like Frenkel, Leiderman didn't step aside because
 of two and a half unflattering headlines or 
special-interest-fueled populism. Neither did he

Leo Leiderman. Credit: David Bachar